Why Ban Alcohol; Just Impose Heavier Penalties On Drink Driving

By PETER JOHN JABAN

COMMENT: Many Malaysians, but Sarawakians and Sabahans in particular, are up in arms at PAS’s thinly veiled attempt to impose Islamic beliefs and practices on the whole country under the guise of public safety in their ridiculous call to ban alcohol consumption to prevent drunk driving.

As PAS embed themselves in government, Solidariti Anak Sabah Sarawak( SASS) and Sarawak Association for People’s Aspiration(SAPA) is calling on all elected representatives, especially those from Sarawak and Sabah, to reject this and any future attempts to pass Islamic legislation ‘through the backdoor’.

These are the very reasons why Sarawakians have been gravely concerned at the announcement that GPS are now officially in coalition with PAS, a party whose stated goals go contrary to our collective culture, racial harmony and freedom of choice.

Frankly, PAS is insulting our intelligence. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has little to do with preventing drink driving and instead is more about banning alcohol consumption following PAS’s openly Islamist agenda. Does the PAS Information Chief really think the electorate are so stupid that they cannot see through his saccharine and shallow expressions of concern?

In this announcement, PAS is treating the people of Malaysia like children and completely ignoring our rights to determine the course of our own lives as voting adults. This is a multi-cultural nation where the vast majority of the population who choose to responsibly consume alcohol in moderation, as do billions of people around the world.

Why should all these people have a blanket ban imposed on them to please a small minority who disapprove of alcohol for religious reasons? When it comes to drunk driving, the only appropriate response is to target the wrongdoers and leave the rest to carry on without interference.”

Sarawak and Sabah has a unique cultural and social mix and has a non-Muslim majority. We also welcome visitors from around the world with respect for their lifestyles and personal choices. A ban on alcohol will put us in a small minority of nations who choose to implement one and label Malaysians as Islamic extremists.

Even Dubai has not taken this step. PAS’s suggestion will drive every single bar and entertainment outlet owner in Malaysia, already suffering from MCO, out of business. Furthermore, it will completely kill the tourism industry, also teetering on the brink of destruction.

Do they think that people want to come to a country which will not allow them to have a relaxing beer on the beach because we stand in judgement of their choices?

For us in Sarawak, alcohol is an integral part of our legendary social life and welcoming nature. Kamaruzaman Mohamad should visit a longhouse during Gawai before he makes his pronouncements to curtail the cultural life our State. Then perhaps he can report back to Hadi Awang on the proper use of cawat!”

This is the problem with allowing religious fanatics to determine the course of policy. They only make decisions based on their own narrow world view and expect everyone else to simply submit. Personally, I do not even believe they speak for the majority of Muslims in Malaysia who are perfectly happy to allow the rest of the population to make their own choices.

This first salvo is potentially just the beginning. First it will be alcohol, then sales of non-halal products, then Hudud law. Perhaps they are seeking to shut down Genting Highlands next because of the dangerous road on the way.

This agenda will damage the economy irreparably, not to mention the unique culture of Sarawak and Malaysia where many traditional practices could suddenly be outlawed. Does PAS hold the view that these people do not count?”

Sarawak’s Muslims have always had close cooperation with citizens professing other religions. SAS is calling on all GPS representatives to guard this long history of mutual respect. Policies must be focused on the greater good and should actually have a good chance of solving the problem.

Bans on alcohol around the world have rarely been successful, leading to widespread underground activity and a significant loss of taxation revenue for the government!

This is why the Malaysian government must remain secular and abstain from interfering in the personal lives of citizens where they have no remit, especially in Sarawak.

Protecting public safety can be achieved without impinging on people’s private affairs. If PAS cannot respect that, then perhaps they have no business in government.

* Peter John Jaban is Information and Publicity Chief SAPA ( Sarawak Aspiration for People’s Aspiration)